Finding Innovation With New Dogfish Head-Inspired Technology

Finding innovation and new ways to present beers is always on the forefront of the craft brewer’s mind. Also,looking to stay on the edge is Dogfish Head’s Sam Calagione, who has helped bring to life a innovative way to nitrogenized barrel-aged beers straight from the barrel.

The Rack AeriAle was recently showcased by the brewery via Facebook Live and Periscope from its Milton, Delaware production facility and in a blog post to consumers on the website.

It was officially announced as a product in February 2017 and it was showcased as well at the Craft Brewers Conference in Washington D.C. back in April.

“I thought it’d be cool to work with AC Beverage to design a system that brings barrel-aged beers from the barrel directly to the tap system and incorporates a smooth creamy nitro head into the process,” Calagione said. “I shared my initial idea with Charlie [Kleinrichert, president of AC Beverage] with some notes and images of what I was thinking about and he took it from there and made the technical and mechanical magic happen.”

The brewery has the second ever made Rack AeriAle, with Eataly Boston’s Terra Restaurant being the first customer.

“Aging beer in wine or whiskey barrels creates a soft, complex flavor profile which is best enjoyed straight from the barrel,” Kleinrichert said.

Dogfish Head and AC Beverage developed a process to perform beer transfers into the wine barrels for aging and nitrogen preservation to keep a blanket of N2 on the beer, protecting it from oxygen.

In a release, the process is described:

“A Nitrogenator mixed gas system was installed to provide a continuous supply of N2 gas, feeding the wine barrels and dispense system requirements. Customized wine barrel extractors allow beer to be pumped under low N2 pressure to a heat exchanger which chills the beer to a desired temperature.  Once the product has been chilled, it feeds to a CellarStream in-line Liquid/Gas Contactor to infuse the desired gas content into the beer. The CellarStream provides a custom-tailored gas blend that compliments the beer style. A full range of flavor profiles, from a crisp carbonated brew, to a soft, velvety Nitrogenated beer can be created. The finished product is integrated into a typical draft beer dispense system using a slow pour style faucet with a restrictor disc which strips the gas while being poured.”

With a whole new system comes a whole new world of possibilities, the brewery said as the Dogfish Head brewers are already thinking about barrel nitro versions of Palo Santo Marron, Bitches Brew, Oak-Aged Vanilla World Wide Stout, Sixty-One, and more. The four beers that debuted on the taps were Alternate Takes #5 in a port barrel; English Strong Ale (one thread of our Burton Baton) in a port barrel; Beer for Breakfast in a bourbon barrel and Olde School Barleywine in a bourbon barrel.

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